Combination of Emricasan with Ponatinib Synergistically Reduces Ischemia/Reperfusion Injury in Rat Brain Through Simultaneous Prevention of Apoptosis and Necroptosis

Apoptosis and receptor-interacting protein kinase 1/3(RIPK1/3)-mediated necroptosis contribute to the cerebral ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury. Emricasan is an inhibitor of caspases in clinical trials for liver diseases while ponatinib could be a potential inhibitor for RIPK1/3. This study aims to investigate the effect of emricasan and/or ponatinib on cerebral I/R injury and the underlying mechanisms. Firstly, we evaluated the status of apoptosis and necroposis in a rat model of cerebral I/R under different conditions, which showed noticeable apoptosis and necroptosis under condition of 2-h ischemia and 24-h reperfusion; next, the preventive or therapeutic effect of emricasan or ponatinib on cerebral I/R injury was tested. Administration of emricasan or ponatinib either before or after ischemia could decrease the neurological deficit score and infarct volume; finally, the combined therapeutic effect of emricasan with ponatinib on I/R injury was examined. Combined application of emricasan and ponatinib could further decrease the I/R injury compared to single application. Emricasan decreased the activities of capase-8/-3 in the I/R-treated brain but not the protein levels of necroptosis-relevant proteins: RIPK1, RIPK3, and mixed lineage kinase domain-like (MLKL), whereas ponatinib suppressed the expressions of these proteins but not the activities of capase-8/-3. Combination of emricasan with ponatinib could suppress both capase-8/-3 and necroptosis-relevant proteins. Based on these observations, we conclude that combination of emricasan with ponatinib could synergistically reduce I/R injury in rat brain through simultaneous prevention of apoptosis and necroptosis. Our findings might lay a basis on extension of the clinical indications for emricasan and ponatinib in treating ischemic stroke.

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